With the rise of identity theft, celebrity worship, and manipulative social media, this sprightly story of a legendary con...

KING CON

THE BIZARRE ADVENTURES OF THE JAZZ AGE'S GREATEST IMPOSTOR

The absorbing tale of a Jazz Age grifter named Edgar Laplante, who posed as an American Indian and gained extravagant wealth and worldwide fame.

Chronicling the life and entertaining yet fraudulent times of Laplante, aka Chief White Elk, Willetts (Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer, and the Man from Moscow, 2015, etc.), in his American debut, brings fresh significance to the ancient profession of the con artist. A vaudeville performer who began his career in traveling medicine shows, by 1917 Laplante was a small-time grifter moving from city to city, posing as Onondagan marathon runner Tom Longboat. As his confidence developed, his game grew, and he effectively dazzled his marks and bled them until his cover was blown. With the law always one step behind, he finally settled into his boldest reinvention: Chief White Elk, revered leader of the Cherokee nation, wounded war veteran, sports celebrity, vaudeville performer, war bonds promoter, etc. Dressed in buckskins and headdress, Laplante was the mainstay of local society pages, and his herculean feats of charisma and charm became unparalleled as his cons grew bigger and more dangerous. After several years, having run the course of his scam in North America, he made his way to Europe, where he began hosting fundraisers for American Indian orphans. By 1924, he was living in the French Riviera, where he met a wealthy Austrian countess from whom he bilked massive sums of money. Touring through Italy at her expense, Laplante hit his ultimate stride when he fell into the graces of the Mussolini regime, which brought him renown across Europe and around the globe. Then, just as he reached his career pinnacle, his fabrications crumbled, resulting in a stint in an Italian prison. Using the “surprisingly extensive paper trail” that Laplante “left behind,” Willetts weaves a fast-paced, intriguing tale.

With the rise of identity theft, celebrity worship, and manipulative social media, this sprightly story of a legendary con artist’s outrageous successes becomes a cautionary tale for the digital age.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-49581-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more